Main Line Computer Users Group


June 2005 Issue 277

VILLANOVA UNIVERSITY, ST. AUGUSTINE CENTER, ROOM 110 MEETING STARTS - 09:30 - JUN 11 th
THIS MONTH'S CONTENTS
UPCOMING MEETING:

For our June meeting, we'll pick up from last time. In the meeting notice, I had listed some items that we missed. So a key must-do is:

- solicit suggestions for future meeting topics

We definitely need YOUR input to help plan future monthly meetings! Come with ideas!!!

Then, we'll do a show-and-tell on the MLCUG OpenCD V2.0M that was distributed to members who were at the December holiday meeting (or in subsequent meetings for some). The CD was assembled by John Murphy, with assistance from Pete Whinnery. For this session, John will cover two parts for the group:

- how the CD was produced (to help you make such bootable CDs of your own)

- briefly review the contents (and seek input on potential demos for future meetings)

Finally, time permitting, Emil will review installing and getting started on a key piece of the CD content - OpenOffice.org - masterful!!


MEETING THRU THE SUMMER!!

As many of you are aware, a lot of clubs, and other organizations, take a summer breather and don't meet in July or August. However, since its inception MLCUG has never taken a vacation - and we do not plan to start doing so now. So, I hope that you;ll find the summer meetings just as varied and useful as the other seasons. Hope to see ALL of you this summer, Emil, prez.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS & COMMENTS
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WELCOME TO OUR NEW MEMBER - we would like to take this opportunity to welcome the mystery member to our ranks. She is Therese Kneipp from Bryn Mawr. Hope to see you at a future meeting!

OUR WEBSITE - just a reminder that our faithful webmaster, Pete Whinnery, will be most appreciative of ideas to improve the usability and value of this website; so don't hesitate to suggest (he says he's still learning, after all these years !).

REGULAR REMINDERS:

1) our email mailing list is run for the member's benefit; so please do not hesitate to post notices or problems to it. If we can't solve the problem remotely, we can be alerted to it ahead of a meeting where hands-on may do the job.

2) attendees know that we have a very fast internet connection from the VU meeting room (we have hit 800+ KBps, that's really moving - tho past performance is no guarantee of the future!). If you have a BIG download, you can bring along a zip disk (or a CD-R/RW) and get it done before or after the main meeting.

3) a half dozen or so of the regular attendees usually partake of lunch. With the demolishing of the Villanova Diner, we have moved to the Country Squire diner. So, after the meeting, why not join us? It is a good time to get a little more help (or give it) and just to have fun talking about our common interests.

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LAST MONTH'S MEETING

We had 18 folks in attendance for the May meeting - most geared up to pass on info, or ask questions about problems or needs. The format of the meeting involved some preliminary announcements and news items from yours truly. Then, we worked our way round the table (clock-wise) for any news items from attendees. Once around, we went around a second time (anti-clock-wise) for folks to bring up problems or do demos. Below, I'll try to highlight some of the interesting or useful (we hope) tidbits from the sessions.
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For starters, NO ONE had any info about or questions on Linux!! So, either folks are set on it, or (more likely) have not really delved into it!! After devoting three meetings to the subject, either we overdid it or still have not provided sufficient motivation for folks to dig into it.

As a followup, I brought up the point that there is this very powerful office suite (called: "OpenOffice.org") that Pete had mentioned and which had a new (beta) update out that makes it (for free) the clone of Microsoft Office Professional (with components designed to be used in place of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Front Page - the top of that product line). There was a modicum of interest expressed; so we'll likely try to show it off at a future meeting. Assuming that we do, I'd hope that users of MS Office will be interested (and be candidates to save a few hundred bucks)!
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Our new treasurer, John Deker, reported (with former Treasurer, Stew Stewart, providing details) that we have 41 paid members for 2005. However, we still have not been able to find out who one of those members is! We have the dues paid, the money is in the bank; but the person has not come forward to identify him/herself!! So, IF YOU WERE THE MEMBER WHO BROUGHT $15 IN FOR A NEW MEMBER AT THE DECEMBER MEETING, please contact John Deker and let him know whom the money came from!!!
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VERIZON FIOS (FIber Optic System) - member John Murphy has become the first MLCUG person (actually the first person any of us know) who has had the new FIOS (or FTTP - Fiber To The Premises) system installed in their home. The system was actually completed only on Thursday, the 12th; so needless to say, his experience is very limited. But, so far, all that he reported was good. He had selected the $39.95 monthly service level (which provides 5 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload speeds). This is about 20% faster on downloads than his Comcast high speed internet service and ~5X faster on uploads - this latter is very important to John as he needs to operate a web or FTP server from his home (which is now his office, as he is working from his house once again). In that arena, uploads are very important (and if you are a user of file services like Bit Torrent, you'll find the upload speed to be a tremendous plus). During the free installation, all his phone service was transferred to FIOS. John told us that he had - also as a part of the home business operation - started using the VONAGE internet phone service. He found it to be just on the edge with the much slower uploads on Comcast - now it works beautifully. He said his normal phone service is clearer and the internet stuff has him drooling! Essentially, all went very well and, for now, he'd recommend it to any of us! Next?
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DIGITAL DUO - if you'd like to view and listen to a lively two-some discussing various computer related topics, tune your browser to http://www.pcworld.com/digitalduo/ The pair, Stephen Manes of PC World and Angela Gunn of USAToday.com, are the fat chewers. I showed the group one of the clips - the talks run for a few minutes each - so they could get a feel for the way they go. These are opinionated (and irreverent) reviews! Give a look and hear to see if you want to bookmark this one.
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DigiPhotos - do you carry a digital camera around? If so, you likely find regular need to steady it while taking a pix. Bill Folger brought in a small table-top tripod that he has with him whenever the camera is. While Layton Fireng brought in a Leitz top-of-the-line model. Both can be a big aid to getting clearer pictures.
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TCF (the Trenton Computer Festival) - Ed Cohen was apparently the only member who attended TCF this year. He reported that things are growing smaller with fewer great deals. He said he's not ready to quit going, but it's a lot less rewarding than it was in past years. We'll try to remember to alert you for TCF 2006 (April?).
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PODcasting - the last item I'll mention is "PODcasting" - a technique for publishing sound files on the internet. You can subscribe to a feed (via a technology called RSS) to bring the files to you automatically. Next meeting, hopefully, Pete may be able to show us a bit more about this technique (and persuade more folks to get iPods or other similar widgets?).
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I reckon that's about all I had some notes on. I think folks all had a good time and learned a few things, too. See the announcement on p.1 for the followup of a couple of these items for our June meeting. Emil Volcheck.

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ADOBE READER 6

Ever since Adobe expanded (bloated) the pdf file reader, I've been reluctant to switch to it because of long load times. Here's a possible way out, if you feel the same [Emil Volcheck]

"How to use liposuction on Adobe Reader 6" And give it mouth-to-mouth respiration too

OUR READERS are wonderful. Well, most of you who don't hate-mail me are. Unlike PR departments from billon-dollar corporations who flood our inboxes with spin and then refuse us a test CPU so we can test other products (you know who you are), our readers digest our rants, occasionally sending "thank you" notes, and in other instances more info that helps us write follow-up stories.

That is the case this time. I reported some time ago on the slooooooow nature of Adobe's latest version of the acrobat (.pdf) reader, recently renamed "Adobe Reader" by their marketing spinmeisters. And just a few days an e-mail from a reader, Kelly Cook, sneaked into my inbox, claiming to have found a way to trim the fat off Adobe Reader 6, and improving its load time to more reasonable levels. Apparently the reader spotted this info on a Mac-related blog and decided to try it on the Windows version. I have tried it myself and guess what, it worked.

On my tests, I decided to use the "lowest of the low-end" system: my Thinkpad 380ed with a Pentium I-MMX class CPU. Before the liposuction, Adobe Reader 6 took 41 seconds to load (without any PDF file), after the fat-removal procedure, it took 20 seconds. On high-end systems, however, the results are more dramatic: Kelly claims it took over 20 seconds to load on a 1.8 Ghz. Pentium 4 system, and just under two seconds after the procedure.

So here are the dirty details

- Install Adobe Reader 6 :) - From the Start->Run windows menu, Open the "x:\Program Files\Adobe\Acrobat 6.0\Reader" folder, where x is the right drive letter. - Find the plug_ins folder and rename it plug_ins_disabled - Create a new folder named plug_ins - Copy the following files to "plug_ins" from "plug_ins_disabled" : EWH32.api, printme.api, and search.api

Of course, this will limit the functionality to viewing non-encrypted pdf files; but that's exactly what I want Reader for - 99.9% of the time. You might want to experiment leaving some of the fat in, I mean, .API files, like reflow.api and search5.api (if it's there), and see how it affects functionality and load times.

With the files listed, you get half the load time on low-end systems, and a 2-sec load time on high-end ones. Still, you might want to use Acrobat Reader 4.05 on old systems, since it loads in just seven seconds, instead of 20.

Your mileage might vary. Liposuction is a dangerous clinical procedure. Consult your doctor. All lawsuits and claims should go not to me, but to our editor and our reader Kelly. ;-) by: Fernando Cassia, Thu, 14Aug03 [from the INQUIRER, 30May05]

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RELIEF FROM COMPUTERS!

[Courtesy of Joe Pizzirusso]

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HARD DRIVE PARTITIONING

Would any members like to install Knoppix, or other Linux distro, on their hard drives? If you want to do so BUT RETAIN your Windows installation, you'll need to partition the hard drive to make room for the new OS.

We suggest 5-10 GB of space for Linux and probably a 30-40 GB hard drive so you can spare that kind of real estate.

Remember that partitioning is not to be taken lightly, so we've offered to have some sort of "Partitioning Workshop" at a non-meeting time. To determine if that is appropriate, we need to know how many folks would like to get help with the partitioning step. Depending on the interest, we can decide how best to tackle it.

Send Emil an email if you want help. Let him have your responses before the meeting; so we can make an announcement. [Emil Volcheck]

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TOGGLE YOUR SCREEN SAVER

You can create desktop shortcuts to get your screen saver out of the way prior to burning a CD or DVD, defragging and other maintenance activities. [This is a very handy and useful tip: ejv]

When I edit and burn my own DVDs, it's bothersome to navigate to my Display Properties dialog box repeatedly to switch my screen saver off so I don't end up with just a nice coaster. Deactivating my screen saver takes no fewer than four clicks. That may not seem like a lot, but it's a hassle to deactivate and restore all the time. Is there a way to create a desktop icon to toggle the screen saver on and off? Jeffrey McCullough, Baltimore

It's helpful to turn off a screen saver before burning CDs or DVDs, running backup software, defragmenting a drive, or performing other PC activities. Unfortunately, Windows makes doing so unduly difficult. But you can create shortcuts for this purpose that you can access with a single click or keystroke combination.

First, create a Registry file that turns off your screen saver. Choose Start, Programs (or All Programs), Accessories, Notepad. On the first line, type Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00 and press Enter twice to add a line break. Then type [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop] and press Enter. Finally, type "ScreenSaveActive"="0" and press Enter (see FIGURE 1). Choose File, Save As and navigate to a convenient location (write down the path to the file; you'll need to know it later). Type a name like SaverOff.reg (be sure to include the three-letter file extension) and click Save. Now change the '0' to 1 and select File, Save As again. This time, type a name like SaverOn.reg and click Save.

The next step is to create two shortcuts that each merge one of these Registry files into the Windows Registry. Right-click the desktop and choose New, Shortcut. In the box, type regedit /s followed by a space. After the space, type SaverOff.reg preceded by the path to the file (see FIGURE 2). Note that the next tip describes a quick and easy way to add the file path without typing. Click Next and type a name for your shortcut--something like Turn Off Screen Saver. Click Finish. Finally, repeat these steps, but use the path to SaverOn.reg and give it a name such as Turn On Screen Saver.

At this point you have two desktop shortcuts--one for deactivating your screen saver and the other for activating it. To disable the screen saver, just launch your Turn Off Screen Saver icon. To enable it again, run the other shortcut.

Finding the desktop shortcuts could slow you down as you minimize windows (press Win-D to minimize everything, or click the Show Desktop icon in the Quick Launch toolbar). To activate the shortcuts via your keyboard, right-click the Turn Off Screen Saver shortcut and choose Properties. With the Shortcut tab in front, click in the Shortcut key box and press the key combination you want to use to turn off your screen saver. You can press a single function key (like F2), but it's better to use a key or key combination that you will not need in another application. You can select almost any key on your keyboard for this purpose, but if you choose something other than function keys, your shortcut must begin with Ctrl-Alt, Ctrl-Shift, Shift-Alt, or Ctrl-Shift-Alt.

While you're in the shortcut's Properties dialog box, you may want to use the Change Icon button to give the shortcut a distinctive appearance. Type %windir%\system32\shell32.dll in the box at the top to see a large number of icons to choose from (see FIGURE 3). Once you've made your selection, click OK to close the Properties box for the shortcut icon. Repeat these steps for the other screen-saver shortcut, giving it a different key combination. You'll press one combination to turn the screen saver off, and the other to turn it back on. After you're done, you can place these shortcuts in any subfolder of the Start Menu folder.

You can disable or enable your screen saver with a single click of your mouse if you add the shortcuts to your Quick Launch toolbar (see FIGURE 4). If you don't see this toolbar on your taskbar, right-click the taskbar and choose Toolbars, Quick Launch. Select both of the shortcut icons you created, click and hold down the right mouse button as you drag them to the Quick Launch area, release the button, and choose Move Here. If you don't see the shortcuts, you may need to drag the border of the Quick Launch toolbar to make it larger. If the toolbar border does not budge (in Windows XP only), right-click the taskbar and choose Lock the Taskbar to unlock it. Resize your toolbars, and then repeat the command to relock it. [from an article by Scott Dunn, Oct '04, PC World]


PC/128/64 Meetings  2005  Steering Committee Meetings

			May 14 			May 18 **
			June 11 			June 15 **
			July 9				July 13 *

	* = SECOND Wednesday	** = THIRD Wednesday location TBD
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